Unique Coffee Tasting - Myanmar
For most of us, being able to make a delicious coffee at home is a requirement. Going out to cafes or coffee shops are typically something we do when we have to.
Well, maybe not.
With the third wave of coffee upon us, heading out to a coffee shop, a cafe, a local roaster, or even a supplier might mean you can try a unique coffee no one else has.
This past week, we had an opportunity to attend a public tasting of two coffees from the small country of Myanmar. Nestled in Southeast Asia and bordering China, India, Laos, Thailand, and Bangladesh, Myanmar has excellent growing conditions for specialty coffee.
The Crown Coffee Lab in Oakland, California is a new facility built by Royal Coffee Importers. In this state-of-the-art location, you can get a mouthwatering coffee while getting some work done, but that’s not the main reason this coffee lab exists. The staff here are quite knowledgeable and they are happy to share that knowledge. Come to The Crown to learn about coffee-centric subjects such as roasting, blending, production, and more. Though this portion of the education curriculum is geared toward small shops, individuals are welcome to join the classes.
If that’s too advanced for your needs, you can attend a weekly coffee tasting geared towards the general coffee drinker. Currently, the education team shares a coffee or two with the general public every Thursday at 1:00 PST. While they typically taste coffees already established in their portfolio, we recently attended one of the tastings for a unique coffee from Myanmar which is not currently available.
Entering The Crown coffee lab brings you into the coffee shop portion of the building. The baristas keep a list of attendees, and though the day we went was not full, it is recommended to call ahead to be put on the list for these free tastings. At 1:00, attendees moved into the tasting room, a glassed in area with high tables laid out for 12 tasters. Chris Kornman, the Lab & Education Manager, introduced himself and went around the room allowing each attendee to do the same. We ranged from roasters to complete newbies. Chris was very patient in explaining how a tasting is conducted while also laying out some house ground rules.
Once the particulars were out of the way, we were told about the coffee we were tasting. This new coffee from Myanmar is the first real entrance for the country into the coffee business. There were two coffees, each from a different supplier. Each of the coffees was processed in three ways - fully washed, honey (or a combination of washed and dried) and dry or natural processed. We’ve discussed processing here if you need a refresher.
We followed the tasting etiquette which you can find in our series beginning here. Beginning with smelling the freshly roasted and ground coffee, moving on to blooming the coffee and breaking the crust, and finally to tasting. The coffee was lightly roasted to allow the natural flavor of the beans to still be noticeable. The darker the roast, the more natural flavors are masked. After tasting, we talked a little about which of the particular coffees we preferred.
The tasting was an enjoyable event. Outside of actually trying the coffees, the education aspect was fantastic. Learning more about a country through coffee is a delightful way to do so. If you have an opportunity to go to a tasting, I highly suggest it. Whether it’s a coffee you would normally buy or not, the experience alone is something I think you might enjoy.